The Birth of Annette

A work made of color lithograph on grayish-ivory laid china paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of color lithograph on grayish-ivory laid china paper.

Date:

c. 1899

Artist:

Edouard Jean Vuillard
French, 1868-1940

About this artwork

Mothers and children were popular visual subjects long before the 19th century; it wasn’t until after the Enlightenment, however, that images of maternal undress were accepted in contexts other than the representation of Christian subjects. Beginning with the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and other Enlightenment-era thinkers, people began to view childhood as a treasured moment in human development rather than a mere step to productive adulthood. As a result, children were increasingly seen as carefree, innocent, and deserving of protection. Their nudity in art was a commonly used symbol of natural purity and vulnerability.

As views of childhood changed, so did ideas about the roles of mothers. Women of the upper class were encouraged to be more active in the daily lives of their children, and works in this gallery illustrate such activities as bathing, nursing, and soothing. The common use of wet nurses was increasingly discouraged, not only by male philosophers and medical doctors, but also by an emerging feminist movement. As with today’s breastfeeding advocacy, mothers in the 19th century were taught the benefits of nursing, both in terms of public health but also as a means of fostering healthy emotional and physical bonds with their children. Works in this gallery by Mary Cassatt, Lovis Corinth, Helen Hyde, and Édouard Jean Vuillard, among others, celebrate tender interactions between mothers and their young children.

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Prints and Drawings

Artist

Edouard Jean Vuillard

Title

The Birth of Annette

Origin

France

Date

1899

Medium

Color lithograph on grayish-ivory laid China paper

Dimensions

412 × 513 mm (image); 430 × 571 mm (sheet)

Credit Line

Gift of Joseph R. Shapiro

Reference Number

1956.723

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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